Clinical Hypnosis - How Long Does It Take To Resolve Issues?
A question that I am frequently asked is: "How many therapeutic hypnosis sessions will it take to 'fix' my _____________?" (You can fill in the blank with any issue)
That is a perfectly reasonable question for which I don't have a good answer. I have seen many clients with a variety of simple or complex issues. Over the years, the only consistent factor that I've observed is that everyone is different. Some hypnosis practitioners, usually those in franchise settings, require an agreement or contract to do hypnosis work. They require a fixed number of sessions - usually 5 to 7 and the client pays up-front for the services. I am firmly against that type of model.
As much as I'd like to be all-knowing; I can't predict how quickly or slowly any given client will be able to learn to adjust and adapt to hypnosis and the therapeutic work. So, setting up a specific number of sessions in advance is counter-productive, both therapeutically and financially. I actually believe that for a licensed "healing arts professional," as I am, having a set session model is actually unethical. While what I am saying might seem off-putting for some clients, I'd like to provide this information to help them make an informed decision.
While I can't predict how many sessions it might take for a client to address their issues fully, I can definitely say that almost every client I've seen has obtained some positive impact from their very first hypnosis session. In some cases, it is not uncommon to obtain significant relief from the client's presenting issues during the first session. But, there is no guarantee because there are many variables.
In dealing with phobias, anxiety, or traumatic stress, the first session or two may be focused on addressing an initial facilitating event(s). During these sessions, special techniques and methods are used to reduce the impact of the precipitating event (if there is one). After this event(s) is addressed, the hypnosis can move on to provide general symptomatic relief and enhance coping strategies.
Addiction issues may require several sessions in order to develop better control over triggers and other stimulating events that lead to the addictive behaviors. Additionally, some hypnosis work is geared toward reducing the overall psychological and physiological impact of the addiction. Relapse prevention and relapse re-framing is also useful to address. It is important to keep in mind that any hypnosis addiction based work will require changes in the person's life to help minimize the opportunities to partake in the addictive behavior. Hypnosis, all by itself, is unlikely to override actions or behaviors taken by the client that encourage relapse or addictive behavior.
While eating disorders or food management issues have good results with hypnosis, it is almost always prudent to expect at least four sessions to obtain good results. The reason for this is because there is an effective and specific need to address several aspects of the eating management problem. All four of these areas need to have some attention in order to solidify the overall hypnosis work.
There are a variety of other reasons clients come for hypnosis, but the ones I just reviewed are the typical ones that have some consistency and pattern to the process. While any given client may have widely variable symptoms and issues, there is typically some commonality to how the therapeutic hypnosis process progresses and that gives some predictability to outcome and results.
Lastly, as the picture chosen for this article attempts to portray, the unconscious mind is a playground of connections and symbols. Anyone can be hypnotized to some degree or another. In contrast to what most people think, the more a person desires to be in control, the easier it can be to hypnotize them. The hypnosis leverages the strength of their focus and control to allow the unconscious mind to enter into the hypnotic trance - which is where the work is done.
Because of these variables, I do not require or encourage an expectation for a certain number of sessions. If the client's results are evident and improvement is being made, then the client has the option to continue. On the other hand, if a client feels that hypnosis is not working for them, they are not locked into a contract or financial agreement. They are free to stop hypnosis ad try other forms of therapy or assistance.
Enhanced relaxation, memory reconstruction, age regression, anxiety, phobias, addictions, eating management.... a wide variety of activities and issues can be facilitated with therapeutic hypnosis work. When other methods or attempts have failed, hypnosis is likely to succeed or allow for a more rapid resolution.